Janet's Notebook
Comfort Foods Shown to Spread Smiles

Ooey Gooey Mac and Cheese

If balance is the key to a healthful diet, should we really be eating salads ALL the time? A little comfort on a plate goes a long way to brightening your day... and in my view a balanced spirit is just as important as a healthy diet. There are just so many great ways to keep the joy in cooking!

What more can I say than Ooey Gooey Mac and Cheese? Oh my goodness, this recipe from Samantha Jacobs of Manchester, NH is a baked macaroni dish that is the equivalent of giving yourself a creamy, cheesy hug. "I throw it under the broiler because I love the top to be brown and a little crispy," says Samantha. "It's great for a crock pot, too." The secret to the creaminess of Samantha's recipe is her use of cheddar cheese soup as a base. Add sharp cheddar and pepper jack cheeses, and the comfort level plain skyrockets. Wondering how it reheats? Well, truthfully I have no idea... because we've never, EVER had any left over!

Now, Minnesota gal Bobbie Jo Woods has also found her crock pot to hold the secret to comforting meals. Her Better Than Homemade Slow Cooker Beef Stew is a down home, family dish that I would gladly eat every day! "I wanted to make a beef stew recipe as close to restaurant quality as possible," explains Bobbie Jo. She recommends sticking to fresh veggies, but to otherwise remain open to using ingredients you have on hand. "You can use peas or other veggies, but be sure to not use frozen veggies or the texture in the crock pot just won't be right." This is a terrifically hardy stew, so it's perfect for a hungry crowd on a cold night. Start it cooking in the morning and a delicious supper will be waiting for you when you get home.

Prefer your comfort chased with a sugar high? Sheila Devour has got you covered. She's serving up her Pancake Cupcakes with Maple Bacon Buttercream Frosting and we couldn't be happier about it. In fact, can you imagine a more comforting name for a comfort food?! These cupcakes are the equivalent of a decadent breakfast mixed with the yummiest of sweet desserts. "Pure pleasure!" exclaims the Towanda, KS cook. "Who would have thought you could make a cupcake from pancake batter, right? This moist, delicious cupcake along with the maple bacon buttercream frosting will have you wanting to eat these for breakfast! The sweetness of the frosting and that touch of bacon gives this cupcake the perfect trifecta."

Whew, now that's some serious comfort food! Sure, a little goes a long way, but personally that balance of decadence with dieting really helps me stick to my eating plans far longer than if I cut out all the fun from my food. After all, where's the joy in that? In fact, Idaho's Bonnie Roberts shared with us one of my favorite comfort splurges of all time: Devonshire Cream for Fruit. It's the perfect example of balancing the good with the "bad"; It's easy, it's fast and it's a cream-cheesy disguise for fruit that we may otherwise just pass by. Dip and diet? Yes indeed, I do believe that's going to be my mantra for 2012!

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Pat Duran - Jan 22, 2012
Sharon it's a recipe submitted by CC MCART-FROST
sharrie hibbs - Jan 21, 2012
hi, just saw a sort of recipe, that called for a box mix of angel food cake mixed dry with some kind of regular cake mix, mixed in a zip lock bag, and when you go to cook it you add i think 1 cup of the mix and 2 tbs. of water and microwave it??? has any one seen this?, i saw it and then lost it.thanks if you know what this is....sharrie hibbs
peaches mahoney - Jan 21, 2012
Amen Sista!
Hillary Bergeron - Jan 19, 2012
that mac and cheese...looks so good. wow.
Linda Coover - Jan 19, 2012
A friend once told me "you remember the people you love the most by what they cook for you". So true of both my Grandmothers, both wonderful cooks and my 81 yr old mom whose cooking is as good today as it was when I was growing up, just ask her Great-grandsons!!
Delma Roach - Jan 18, 2012
mmmm, we will try this recipe for lunch on Thursday! Reminds me of my Grandmother's recipe--that she never had the chance to write down on paper before she passed on. Thank you for bringing back such lovely memories!
Colleen Sowa - Jan 17, 2012
I love good old comfort foods! Thanks for posting this! xo
Norma DeRemer - Jan 17, 2012
I agree Kelly. Nothing better. Thanks Janet. We all think you should post a new picture of you with your new hair cut. It is sooo cute. Hugs, Norma D.
Kelly Williams - Jan 17, 2012
Mmmmmm, comfort foods!!! Just the aroma of these nostalgic dishes takes you right back in time to helping Grandma in the kitchen perched up on a stool. Is there anything better? :D